Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

532
Banjo Lovers Online


Oct 21, 2020 - 3:25:23 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

249 posts since 10/9/2019

Hey y'all
I'm in the early market phase of shopping for a banjo, and I have very little experience with different banjo options. I'm currently playing a Morgan Monroe MNB1, and I'm upgrading from it.
I play bluegrass three finger style, and I want to get an instrument I could possibly gig with etc. I like Maple and nickel hardware, but I don't know anything else really about what it want. What do I need? What questions do I need to be asked? Any help helps thanks

Oct 21, 2020 - 4:59:56 AM
like this

beegee

USA

21933 posts since 7/6/2005

I highly recommend Recording King RK-35 BR or the Elite RK-75 or Flamed Maple RK-85 Elite if you want something fancier. The 35 has a regular Gibson Scale and the others have a longer scale. I have 2 RK-75 Elites and an RK-85, which I prefer to play instead of my PW Gibson Granada.

Oct 21, 2020 - 6:49:40 AM
likes this

2278 posts since 5/2/2012

What is your budget? In your present location, shipping costs are going to be a major factor if you are thinking about buying now. And by gig, are you thinking playing professionally in a band in the future?
At a $1000 price point you have lots of good choices in the used market, (more banjo for your money), plus new banjos (that RK35, Gold Tone, Deering, etc.).

Edited by - thisoldman on 10/21/2020 06:52:17

Oct 21, 2020 - 7:14:43 AM
likes this

2247 posts since 2/10/2013

Buying a top quality banjo can be more economical that several upgrades. Be sure to check out Stelling and Prucha banjos. Stelling uses the highest quality components they can find. Some of the metal parts are made by Prucha. Prucha is made in a European country and may be easier to acquire than some other brands. Neither type of banjo is inexpensive. But it will be the last banjo you will ever need.

I play a Stelling "Sunflower" banjo, and it is constructed using the materials you described. I do not have any desire to replace that banjo. Looks good and plays great. BTW, I have owned and played banjos made by companies other than Stelling, so my opinion is not based on the one banjo I currently own. I just sold a Gold Star banjo. A very good banjo, but it was not being played.

Oct 21, 2020 - 7:39:36 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

249 posts since 10/9/2019

Ok thanks for the responses, I'm looking to buy a new banjo from a builder in the US, in an effort to support the craft, etc. I'm looking at about $2000 ish for a budget.
Yes, when I say gigging I mean professionally in a band. Idk if I'm gonna be doing that, but I want to have the option.
My location is not a problem, as I will be in the states before I buy anything (early next year).
The main purpose of this post is that the builders I'm looking at do mostly custom work, and I don't know what specs to get, so I'm just wondering what are options that I should ask about etc.
And especially tone ring vs woody tone ring? And have any of y'all played a Tony Pass almost flathead?

Oct 21, 2020 - 8:01:06 AM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

A custom banjo from a US maker for $2000?

Oct 21, 2020 - 8:21:26 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

249 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

A custom banjo from a US maker for $2000?


Custom in that they don't really have set model designations, so basically anything is custom because it doesn't come "stock". 

And yes, I have found two makers in that general area of price, and a few more just up from there

Oct 21, 2020 - 9:00:22 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

428 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Dragonslayer
quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

A custom banjo from a US maker for $2000?


Custom in that they don't really have set model designations, so basically anything is custom because it doesn't come "stock". 

And yes, I have found two makers in that general area of price, and a few more just up from there


i think you've answered your own question then.

Oct 21, 2020 - 9:34:02 AM
likes this

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Dragonslayer
quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

A custom banjo from a US maker for $2000?


Custom in that they don't really have set model designations, so basically anything is custom because it doesn't come "stock". 

And yes, I have found two makers in that general area of price, and a few more just up from there


As far as considerations for what you want, I'd say that the big things that new players forget is the importance of neck profile and fretwire. Width at the nut, scale length, 'depth' and shape of the neck, and fretwire material/height/width. These are the things that really affect how a banjo feels in your hands, and despite their importance they usually aren't even considered by a lot of players. 

Oct 21, 2020 - 12:45:07 PM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

249 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

As far as considerations for what you want, I'd say that the big things that new players forget is the importance of neck profile and fretwire. Width at the nut, scale length, 'depth' and shape of the neck, and fretwire material/height/width. These are the things that really affect how a banjo feels in your hands, and despite their importance they usually aren't even considered by a lot of players. 


Thanks, that's the kind of things I was looking for. What are some standard sizes for nut width? And Scale length? And what are the tonal characteristics of different scale lengths? 

I do adapt pretty quickly to most of these kinds of changes, since I play several different kinds of instruments, but it is nice to have one that takes the least adaptation. 

Oct 22, 2020 - 6:57:49 AM
likes this

Helix

USA

13065 posts since 8/30/2006

Nut @ 1-3/16” mostly
One can spec 1-1/4“ easily

Banjo fret wire standard #147
Or guitar wire #148

Neck profile
Gibson is a D profile
Vega is a V

How tall are you? What size hands
I prefer a D profile

Oct 22, 2020 - 8:20:32 AM
likes this

Helix

USA

13065 posts since 8/30/2006

Scale length my dog can hear, I use Gibson

Rim and neck wood are very important to me. I use different woods to get different voices

If you will be playing on stage, that means a Mike or a pickup which usually erases any tonal coloration enjoyed by acoustic players

Figure the cost of a good case and accessories
luthiersupply.com has great inlays. I have people buy them and sent to me to install

I use less bling 12mm stars instead of 16. Dots and diamonds are vary nice in pau abalone

A maple rim and neck can be sharper in tone and hard to handle
Walnut and Cherry can improve depth and range, so can the right bridges

I use a magnet mount resonator

Neck wood can be seen as an integral part of the sound. I have a new neck of Poplar and Purple Heart necks can have more than one knock note


Oct 22, 2020 - 9:06:40 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

249 posts since 10/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

Nut @ 1-3/16” mostly
One can spec 1-1/4“ easily

Banjo fret wire standard #147
Or guitar wire #148

Neck profile
Gibson is a D profile
Vega is a V

How tall are you? What size hands
I prefer a D profile


Ok cool. I think I prefer a D profile and wider nut, from the banjos I have played. 

I'm about 5'8" but still growing, and my arms are quite long. My hands are fairly large, but my fingers are slim. 

I was thinking that the butt end of shotgun shells and .22 rounds would make really cool inlays. 

Also, did you get the PM I sent you? 

Edited by - Dragonslayer on 10/22/2020 09:10:35

Oct 22, 2020 - 3:50:27 PM
likes this

Helix

USA

13065 posts since 8/30/2006

Spent shells are a great idea

I will check for mail

Oct 22, 2020 - 4:24:35 PM
likes this

55991 posts since 12/14/2005

I own a Stelling, which now retails at more than $4,000.
But one of the best-sounding banjos I ever put together was a neck I made, on a body from HELIX.
If you can get one made entirely by him, for $2,000 or so, my guess is it will be superb!

Oct 24, 2020 - 1:33:20 AM
likes this

Helix

USA

13065 posts since 8/30/2006

Very kind words indeed. Mike has an Alder rim with rolled brass tone ring, one of the early Auroras. We all get better with age, no?
His neck, however is typically unique and character driven, just like the maker. Check it out.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.1875